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Chapter One: The Enchanted Sea
I love the sea, the blue and the green and the wet and the cool. If I have to choose between the sea or you, I take you, but with sadness.
My favorite thing is to swim with you, to put the crown on my head and spray water in your face, to see you when you laugh like that, and pretend that I'm a little girl. I love to see that look on your face when you register that I'm not....I know, I know, they always ask that, "Who are you, exactly?"
I just laugh and then I dive down deep, to find more pearls on the ocean floor. I will bring them back to you, my love. I will always bring them back to you....
I used to have a thing about mermaids.
I felt I often met men who were lost at sea. I would meet them and lift them up, swim them home, and help them get their land legs back. But then I would have to go back into the ocean because I had only a fishtail. I envied the women with land legs, who got to greet these men upon their return and stay with them back on shore. I pitied myself all the lonely nights I spent swimming alone in a tempestuous sea, the stars above my only companions between rendezvous with drowning sailors.
When she was a very young child, I read The Little Mermaid to my daughter many times, and it was way too close to home. The mermaid Ariel got a different ending than I always did. At the end of the story she got to stay with Prince Eric in his world, and she didn't have to be a mermaid anymore. Something in me wanted that for myself. I would tell my Erics that I was going to do it their way, but then I found things so boring in their world. Yes, I wanted to be one of those land girls, but on another level I clearly didn't. I found I couldn't live without swimming, no matter how much I said otherwise. My tempestuous sea was a magical sea. And I didn't just enjoy the stars shining down on the ocean in the middle of the night; I finally realized I need them. If I had to choose between Eric and the sea, I was clearly more drawn to the sea. I saw that I wasn't made for Eric's world, and what I really wanted was a man who could swim without my help.
What I wanted was not a knight on a white horse. What I wanted was a knight on a dolphin, and ultimately that is what I found. For I learned some things about the Erics of the world. They are bored here, too. They want enchanted swims in the middle of the night, and are as open to the mermaid who swims them out to sea as to a mermaid who swims them back to land.
Forget The Little Mermaid. Splash is a better movie.
At the end of that one, the mermaid says to her love, "You know, I come from a much better place than this. There are just as many lights in my world and there is just as much excitement. There's as much going on down there as up here. In fact, in truth, it's a more civilized environment."
She had actually come, then, not just to be with him but to retrieve him. He flashed back to the moment when he'd met her. They had been children then, and their initial point of contact had not been earth, but sea. That was the point of their true and original connection, and its magic couldn't be exported to a sullied, weary, worldly environment. Enchantment is nontransferable. And so they both went back to sea. The mystic, and mystical lovers, learn this basic rule: Go where you're wanted. Go where you belong.
Mystical love, like mystical anything, exists in a different realm of consciousness than the one that dominates our daily lives. Emotional enchantment is conjured up, brought forth, and summoned from the underworld. It is not neurosis but mystical talent to know that and to know how to do it. In every woman, there is a latent priestess with the ability to invoke that realm. Mermaids are a kind of sexual muse, singing of a higher, more subtle, more magical dimension of life and love. In the enchanted romantic sea, we all have the power to heal and be healed. Our love, in that place, is a temple garden. Sex, in that place, is the door to the temple, and in that temple lies the power of God.
That sacred dimension of romance is what lovers long for now: the magical space of an enchanted intimacy. Many of us have been practicing its ways, unbeknownst to ourselves, for years. Some women have been practicing magic while others were doing housework. Some men have been practicing magic while others were practicing the worldly routines that rob their time and sap their life force. Some of us surrendered to the mystical waters that surround our earthly experience, and the surrender has at last turned out to be a blessing.
There was a time when the sea creatures landed on earth; now the creatures of the earth are heading back to sea. The enchanted lover -- a candidate for mastery of both earth and sea -- is rising up today in a creative swell. The reinvention of romantic love is our newest frontier, toward which our personal yearning is driving us in droves. There is another world beyond this one, which the mystically uninitiated simply cannot see. Their only response, were they to see a mermaid, would be to run some tests. Fishtails seem weird to them, but on the other hand, they don't see wings either.
In truth, they do not see at all. That is why they call love blind, for it is they who cannot see. There are some things that cannot be seen with earthly eyes.
Enchanted love is one of them....
If you will hold my hand, then I will hold my breath and cast my fate in the direction of my heart. I will put on hold my lesser dreams and reach for what is truly mine.
Say you will, and I will buy my ticket for this ride. It will not be cheap, nor always smooth. But I don't care. I don't care. I have finally come to that....
Our deepest human need is not material at all: Our deepest need is to be seen. We need adventure. We need meaning. We need identity. We need love. Someone who has seen us through loving eyes has awakened us from the ranks of the formerly dead. Most people bear the terminal stress of walking the world unseen, a mere number or cog in a lifeless machine. Mystical romance is a space of resurrection and repair. It does more than help us survive a soulless world; it helps us to transform it.
The problem with most intimate relationships is that they are not romantic. They do not involve a deeper knowing, and thus there is diminished possibility of sacred, transformative sharing. To be truly seen, in all our innocence and glory, is to be truly healed. What we salute in one another, we call forth in one another.
So many people say that they are looking for love, yet they are actually committed to never finding it. Many people would really rather not know of the scars and triumphs of the person who lies in their arms. Many people who say they are looking for love are merely looking for superficial comfort. Real love entails readiness to die to who we were, in order to be born again prepared for love, truly worthy of the romantic heights. Real love is comforting, to be sure, but not always at first. In becoming romantic artists, we must pierce the armor that hides our hearts, and that piercing is not comfortable. It is horrible and painful. It can take years of tears to melt the hardness that develops in this world, covering our tender, gentler, inner selves. Tears for every devastating loss. Tears for every humiliating failure. Tears for every repeated mistake. Those who allow those tears, even honor those tears, are not failures at love but rather its true initiates. First the pain, and then the power. First the heart breaks and then it soars.
Love will push every button, try every faith, challenge every strength, trigger every weakness, mock every value, and then leave you there to die. But once you begin to turn the corner, to leave love's bush league and enter the pros, there is no worldly activity that can match the joy of flying like an eagle through the skies of a lover's heart.
Do you remember when we were kids, reading about evolution? We were shown apes on the left side of a page, and a standing human being on the far right. That was how evolution was presented to us: as the rise of our species from ape to man.
But perhaps we should reconsider that picture. I think the standing human being belongs in the center of the page. Now, our arms are hanging down at our side, but what should happen next is that our arms move up slightly, in a position reminiscent of Jesus. It is a position that says simultaneously, "I am undefended" and "Come unto me." Can you imagine a picture of Jesus with his arms folded in front of him, striking a pose that suggests the attitude, "Don't even think about coming close to me"?
Our human arms will begin to lift, in a kind of Hallelujah posture, continuing to rise as a space on the back between the shoulder blades pops and our wings begin to sprout. At the far right of the page there will be a picture of an angel. For that is where we're headed now, as our evolutionary potential calls us to spring forward and become who we really are.
How will we get there? Quite simply, with each other. The highest purpose of intimacy is to call forth the beloved's soul.
Heaven is entered two-by-two. Enchanted intimacy is a temple of the Holy Spirit, where we are most quickly and most likely to be transformed by grace. We cannot remain who we used to be, once love has made it over our walls and begun to change our hearts.
The twentieth century is drawing to a close. We are exiting spiritual Dark Ages in which materialistic form and function were viewed as the primary reality of almost everything. Love hardly survived these times, though survive it did, in a fierce and miraculous way, often ravaged and torn by the mockery and denial of a loveless world. Magic was exiled to the margins of the mind, while true romance was diminished to the purview of fairy tales, and fairy tales, of course, were supposedly just for children. We applauded Romeo and Juliet, yet secretly supported the idiocy of their parents.
True romance had to go underground, as physical, then economic needs, took center stage. Women needed men to make their physical environment safe, to help protect the children and themselves. Nature needed both men and women to create more children, till the soil, and so on. But now the species has entered the next phase of our journey, the menopause of our existence, where our creativity will turn less physical and more spiritual. The planet needs more wisdom now, more than it needs more children. Men and women need each other, at least as much as we ever did, but for a deeper experience than mere procreation or protection. We need to partner in consciousness now, to conceive the miraculous things of spirit. Our most potent needs are psychological and emotional, our most potent language is poetry and myth, and our most potent love is forgiveness and compassion.
Our children, to survive, need this transformation in our experience of love. In order to protect them in ages past, we needed to be able to subdue our physical environment. Now, in order to protect the children, we must learn to pacify that same environment, to transform it from fear to love. Our relationships, at their highest, are conduits for a quantum leap forward. We need to be reborn as a human family now, for men and women to be made new, to be washed clean of the past that the world might start again. A soulful love is the psychic womb for new life, where our kisses have the power to transform us all.
It was messy when we were born into the body, and it is messy being reborn in spirit.
Growth is a detox process, as our weakest, darkest places are sucked up to the surface in order to be released. Often, upon seeing the weaknesses in each other, we have the tendency to go "Yuck!" and walk away on some level. But often it is not a change in partners but rather a change in perception that delivers us to the love we seek. When we shift our view of the purpose of intimacy -- from serving our own needs as we define them to serving a larger process of healing -- then an entirely new opportunity presents itself. Our wounds have been brought forward, not to block the experience of love, but to serve it. It is in the forgiveness of our weaknesses that we are healed of them, and the tenderness of a forgiven heart is a tenderness that will ultimately heal the world.
You and I both know that we have shadow sides. We have edges, my darling, and resistances to love. If we're unevolved about this, then we will hurt each other, we will only cause pain. These aspects of ourselves could ruin this relationship. Let's consider this, before we embark.
In fact, we were brought together for healing purposes. There will be something in your personality which is bound to trigger the unhealed parts of me, and I will trigger yours.
But we can see this relationship differently. Through the grace of God, it can become a healing environment rather than an emotional torture chamber. Then I think I can work on those parts of myself, and you can work on those parts of you. We can even grow beyond these things. I just need you to know that I'm trying. Please share with me, but try not to attack or judge me for these wounds I carry. And I will try my best to do the same for you. Then holiness will be served here, and the relationship can deepen.
Forgive me, if you can, and I vow to try to forgive you.
Can the purpose of a relationship be to trigger our wounds? In a way, yes, because that is how healing happens; darkness must be exposed before it can be transformed. The purpose of an intimate relationship is not that it be a place where we can hide from our weaknesses, but rather where we can safely let them go. It takes strength of character to truly delve into the mystery of an intimate relationship, because it takes the strength to endure a kind of psychic surgery, an emotional and psychological and even spiritual initiation into the higher Self. Only then can we know an enchantment that lasts.
We unconsciously seek the relationships that challenge us to deliver on our most soulful selves, as well as tempt us to fall into our most neurotic patterns. We must attend to the wound in order to heal it. That is the romantic Grail. It is what makes an intimate relationship so exciting, but also so difficult. Enchanted partnership begins with the conscious understanding, on the part of two people, that the purpose of their relationship is not so much material as spiritual, and the internal skills demanded by it are prodigious. High romance is not about past or future. It is not about practicality. It is not about society or worldly routines. It is an audacious ride to the center of what is, at the heart of every person. It is a bold and masterful inquiry into who two people really are and how we might become, while still on earth, the angels who reside within us.
There is more to say, though we have not the language. There is more to see, though we have not the eyes. There is more to love, though we have not the heart....
As yet, my love. As yet. For I believe in the power of love, and the magnetic draw of planets to their orbits. And you are drawn to encircle me as I am drawn to encircle you. Encircle each other we will forever, for our orbits are bound to one another's pull. The central sun has determined that, and its light, however dim or however bright, however central to our vision or merely peripheral and at times ignored, shall always call us back to our hearts. And back at home, in the haven of love, we will always find each other. I will be there, if only for a moment, and I will say to you, each and every time, "I remember, my darling. This is home to me."
"Do you think planets call each other 'Darling'?" you asked with a smile.
"On some level," I said, "I think they do."
And that is where we all begin: a prince and princess longing for each other, wandering through foreign lands in search of one we lost. It is not an external "fix" we seek, but an internal blessing, and our souls will bend toward the possibility of union as surely as a flower bends toward sunlight. Wicked fairies and evil queens, monsters and dragons, and dangerous spells will always threaten our approach to heaven. Yet we are drawn to our destiny as if to a magnet, and while monsters can delay us, they have no power to change our destination. The map to our deliverance is held in trust and guarded by angels. We will encounter the darkness of a lonely existence, but find each other again in the light of an intense and compassionate understanding. We find in that place an unending kiss.
Each of us carries, etched on our hearts, instructions that read, "Come home. Come home." And the beloved arrives to take us there. Like the prince who comes to awaken Sleeping Beauty, he is an earthly prince who has received a higher Crown. With his Sword of Truth -- his honesty and courage -- and his Shield of Virtue -- his integrity intact -- he cuts through the brambles that surround the castle, and he frees us from the blackness of our too, too long night. Awakened, we embrace him, and together we enter enchanted realms. The kingdom of the heart is thus brought back to life, and life for everyone begins again.
Once upon a time, in a dimension of consciousness very far away, a mystical adventure began. Now, many ages later, we are beginning to awaken from our deep, deep sleep of separation and guilt. There is a sound of footsteps as the loved one approaches. He has made it to our side, and we are about to awaken from the deadness of our former selves. The beloved comes with an elixir of rebirth, in both hands, in every kiss, and our souls are reunited in God. We are free of our nightmares. We are forgiven and released. We are totally in love. We are so happy we are home.
Copyright © 1999 by Marriane Williamson